Updated: Dec 16, 2019
How to Build A Ethical Personal Brand: 3 Principals to Live By
How can you become a respected voice in your field and build your online profile without negatively affecting your offline reputation?
We’re living in the age of the influencer. There's no escaping it. So personal branding for lawyers is really important.
With it, a lot of opportunities have arisen for people who are ready and willing to take advantage. However, for the average consumer, it has increased their levels of skepticism.
We're all cynical
Social media has rightly made us more cynical. We question things more. There's only so much enthusiasm we can take from someone who is promoting something as mundane as a pair of socks. We don't see the same levels of excitement from people who have won the lotto.
This climate has lead a lot of people with interesting things to say to turn their back on the idea of building their own “personal brand”. We have an assumption that building a "personal brand" means your a bit full of themselves. We assume that to do it, is to be overly salesy, in your face and ultimately harmful to what people think about you.
A fine line
There’s a line that people all too often cross when it comes to building their profile online. But, there are ways to build a personal brand while keeping your self-integrity and respect. I've outlined a few principals below that I think are key:
Personal Branding for Lawyers
This is the extremely important.
You are being authentic with your personal brand when who you actually are is aligned with how you are branding yourself. What are your motives? If you are communicating them to your audience, are you being honest?
Having some commercial motive for doing what you are doing is fine, but it shouldn’t be your sole motive and you should never mislead your audience.
Audit what you are sharing across your channels, are you being genuine? Nothing should be staged. Your audience will usually see right through it anyway.
2. Give real value
People are more aware than ever of being scammed online. Everything on the internet is seen as a transaction. Your giving brands and people your time and attention so you judge it harshly if it under delivers. This ranges from everything you consume from blogs to podcasts and videos.
Don’t pretend to be someone your not and give people true value. Learn about your audience and give them the information that can actually solve their problems. Help them in their own journey and don’t withhold any magic solutions.
Give people the principals to their solutions to the different issues they’re facing. If you want, save the nitty-gritty of individual strategies and tactics that will work for your clients. This approach of giving value will build trust and authority in your field.
3. It’s a tool, not a business model
Personal branding has a bad reputation as sometimes it can seem exploitative. I believe your personal brand should not be the sole focus of your professional world. It should be seen as an extra avenue to connect with your audience, help them, and promote some of your offerings that you know will do just that.
What you produce should be approx a 80:20 split in favor of useful content as opposed to promotional material.
To be perceived as sincere, you should have other areas of your professional life in order. You'll be more interesting too as you have more lessons and stories besides what you're doing from a personal branding perspective.
If you follow the above principals, your personal brand should enhance your offline reputation and help you win business.